February 17, 2018

Put Out To Pasture? Not Really

This post first ran almost 5 years ago. The message continues to be relevant for a new crop of blog readers

On the west side of Tucson is Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Home to the 355th Wing,  this air base continues as an active training and support facility. It is also a storage facility for literally thousands of planes that have been pulled from service. Every type of military aircraft sits in neat rows, stretching for miles. To get a sense for how big this is, you have to drive by it. But, since that is impractical for most, watch this short video. Be sure to stick around for the last 30 seconds and try to count the planes:

Why are they here? Parts are used to keep other planes flying. Some are sold to other countries that want the type of aircraft offered or need the parts for their own planes. And, of course, while 20, 30, even 50 years old, these aircraft could be made air worthy and fly again for the Air Force. What struck me as I drove down Kolb Road in Tucson and saw all these "retired" planes were the parallels to our own retirement.

For some of us, feeling "mothballed" after an active life becomes a problem. Just as these aircraft served their country for many years, we worked hard at whatever we did to be able to invest and save enough to be able to stop working. But, what happens next is really key. Without work do we feel sort of like an out of service airplane, put away with no real function? Do we sit in the Arizona (or Florida) sunshine waiting for.......?

Or, are we allowing our "parts" to keep functioning. As noted, these stored aircraft often have a second life. Their parts are used to keep other planes flying or they may be sold. They can be used for training purposes. The fact that they aren't being flown every day the way they used to be doesn't make them worthless. It just makes how they are used different.

satisfying retirement is very similar. This phase of life has the same highs and lows, pros and cons, disappointments and joys as any other time of life. It offers the same opportunities to learn, grow, contribute, and make a difference. Attitude has a tremendous effect on the level of success at this time of life. If you view your productive life as over, in effect, put out to pasture, then that is probably how it will be.

I suggest we take a lesson from the planes sitting on those acres of tarmac in Tucson. If they were worthless it is likely they would have been turned into scrap a long time ago. But, as the video mentions, this part of the Air Force actually makes money for the government. These aging, pulled from service, past their prime machines have enough value for the Air Force to spend many millions of dollars to protect and guard them.

No matter our age or our current station in life we have value. Our job is to scrape off any dust, reinflate our tires, and figure out what we have to offer.

Heavens knows the world needs our wisdom and help.


  1. It is a special place. We took the tour a few years ago and planes are really not my thing but I was mesmerized. The guides are all retired air force people who know their planes and also know the history of all the planes. You can ask them anything and they have the answer. Not only are the planes retired but the guides as well.

    1. It is rather awe inspiring. If you stop to think about the amount of money sitting in the desert sun you can become a little uneasy. But, these planes did their job for all those years protecting us. So, they should have a satisfying retirement in the sun just like the rest of us.

  2. That's a great day trip! Also saw the Titan Missile silo for the first time last year... verrrry interesting!!

    As far as being put out to pasture in our retirement years: I have found as we go deeper into this journey,that it's mostly like regular life! Some good times,some stressful times, hobbies, activities,friends,church,travel.. with a huge does of FREEDOM thrown in!!

    1. I have driven near the Titan missile silo exhibit but never stopped in. A friend of mine did and said it was rather scary.

  3. The planes all line up makes quite an impressive display.


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